Barbecue techniques in a professional kitchen

You’ve probably already noticed, but barbecueing has become much more than baking hamburgers on a grill. It gives an extra taste dimension to much more than just meat. (Re)discover a few basic techniques on the barbecue in this article. It’s incredible what you can do with a BBQ!

Barbecue techniques in a professional kitchen

We experience food through five basic flavors: sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami. These are called basic flavors, because other flavors consist of combinations of these flavors and aromas.However, the taste of barbecue cannot be categorized. You could define it as the sixth basic taste. The barbecue flavor is becoming more and more common in gastronomy and is used as a real seasoning. Chefs all over the world are always looking for a total experience of complex flavors, regardless of the cooking style. Flavoring dishes with herbs and spices can enhance this experience, but you can also add the taste of barbecue to dishes.

Charcoal or briquettes?

There are two opposing groups of barbecue specialists: briquette lovers vs. charcoal fans.


  • are compressed pieces of charcoal.
  • reach their temperature more slowly.
  • smoulder for longer.


  • burns hotter, faster and cleaner.

The flavour is often ascribed to the wood used, such as Hickory or Mesquite. But science tells us that the real flavour isn't in the briquettes or the charcoal… It's in the fat that melts and drips onto the hot coals, together with meat juices. This causes smoke to develop, and the smoke provides the typical barbecue flavour. In other words, it's not so much about what is the best fuel, but how to best use the barbecue flavour in the kitchen.

Difference between smoking and barbecueing?

Where there's smoke, there's flavour! Wood smoke provides rich, layered flavours. There is no reaction between dripping fat and meat juices and hot coals during smoking. Therefore, the flavour is different. You can create smoky flavours on the barbecue when you use it like a smoker. By grilling with indirect heat, you can smoke and cook large portions of food at low temperatures.

A few ways to get more out of your barbecue:

1. Barbecue stock

To make a barbecue stock, you can roast oxtail on the barbecue. The typical barbecue flavour will be absorbed by the meat. The bouquet garni provides a fresh touch to the stock, the meat provides the barbecue aroma. In short: a great basis for your creativity. 'Where there's smoke, there's flavour!'

2. Smoky cream

To infuse cream with smoke, it's best to use ‘smoking dust’. Spread it over the hot coals. Put the cream in a tray and place it on the meat rack. Close the barbecue lid, otherwise you'll lose lots of flavour and aroma. The fats in the cream will absorb the smoke flavour. Smoky cream, cream infused with smoke, is used in hot dishes like sauces, soups and gratins.

3. Smoking with hay

Smoking with hay gives your product an extra dimension. The challenge is to add a smoky flavour with finesse so that it doesn't dominate. For a subtle smoked flavour, it's vital to smoke briefly. Place hay on the BBQ with the product and close the lid immediately. The smoke will ensure that the flavour of the hay is slowly absorbed by the product.

4. Indirect cooking of meat and fish

It’s hard to imagine barbecuing without meat and fish. In this ‘picanha’, it’s the charred meat juices that give the beef its real barbecue flavour. You can also grill larger pieces of fish and meat with indirect heat. Place them as far away as possible from the direct radiant heat. You can control the temperature with the ventilation opening. Grilling with indirect heat is ideal for cooking at a low temperature.

5. Barbecueing meat efficiently

Pre-cooking the meat has a big advantage: you'll reach the desired core temperature before the outer crust dries out or burns and the inside will not be raw. This is the recommended technique for working efficiently. It enables you to serve perfectly juicy spareribs quickly, for example. Pre-cook the ribs in a water bath at 67 °C (about 36 hours). This provides the ideal balance between flavour, texture and temperature control. It works for many types of meat!

6. Vegetables and fruit on the BBQ

Vegetables and fruit prepared in a classic oven often have a neutral flavour. They need seasoning with herbs and spices. The barbecue on the other hand immediately brings out distinctive flavours and structures. Just think of roasted aubergine, grilled pineapple or seared cauliflower: the BBQ creates the flavour!

Explore your barbecue skills

More inspiration

Interested in exploring new BBQ paths? Explore your barbecue skills with these new recipes and get to experience the smokey flavours firsthand.

The recipe for rump cap (picanha) will take you to Latin America. Hot, hot, hot!

Or go for a vegetarian dish and learn how to handle vegetables on the barbecue. Plus, learn why you have to brine fish before grilling it and discover how to make a dessert on the barbecue. With our recipe based on Debic Crème Brûlée Bourbon you’ll create a fantastic bread pudding in no time.

View recipes